Beginning a yoga practice can be scary. Not only is it a whole new set of physical exercises, but yoga is also a spiritual practice. You may find yourself wondering what to expect when you get to class, or what yoga etiquette looks like.
We want the transition into a new yoga practice to be enjoyable, so we’ve put together a mini-guide for all of the yoga newbies out there.
1. Focus on the feeling
Remember: It’s doesn’t matter how the pose looks, it’s how it feels. New students often get frustrated because they want to get into the asana (pose) perfectly. Don’t get intimidated by the poses themselves; you’re not meant to do them perfectly at first (or maybe even ever).
Yoga isn’t about twisting your body into an impossible position, it’s about staying mindful while being in your body. Don’t worry so much about looking like everybody else, instead focus on how your body feels in the pose. If it feels good to you, you’re doing it right.
2. Stay hydrated
Whether you’re in a Bikram yoga class or a Hatha class, it’s probably going to get sweaty. Make sure to drink a lot of water beforehand, but try not to drink too much in the hour or so leading up to class. Bring at least one towel to wipe sweat from your face, and if you sweat a lot in general, it’s a good idea to bring an extra one to cover your mat.
Especially if you’re joining a hot yoga class, it’s always nice to have a clean set of clothes to change into afterward, so you don’t have to sit in your sweat on the drive home!
3. Keep an open mind
You might be introduced to a different way of thinking in your yoga classes. Even if the only reason you start yoga is for the physical benefits, try to keep an open mind when it comes to the spiritual aspect of the practice. Without the mental aspect (mindfulness) of the practice, you’re likely to hit a wall on the physical end.
Eventually, the practice becomes spiritual. This doesn’t mean you have to change your beliefs, but it’s important to stay open-minded and find what makes the most sense to you.
4. Take breaks
One of the beautiful things about yoga is that it’s all about listening to your body. If you need a break, take one! Coming into child’s pose, savasana (corpse pose), or seated meditation are all great ways to catch your breath.
Don’t worry about not doing what the teacher is telling you to do. These resting poses are encouraged when needed, and no one will judge you for taking time to take care of you.
5. Keep going!
Don’t give up on your practice! It’ll take some getting used to, but your body will thank you for it in the long run. Yoga is so beneficial for both body and mind, it just takes a little bit of time to settle in. Give yourself enough time, about a month, to settle into the practice before you decide it’s not for you.
Try a few different kinds of yoga to find out which one you enjoy the most. If you’re looking for a stable routine, go for Bikram; if you crave variety and fun, try a Vinyasa class. The most important thing is to find one that makes you feel amazing!
Anna Schoener is a yoga instructor living in Malmo, Sweden.
Photo credit: Creative Commons user gammaman